The deadly side of social media

Two cases in Lahore highlight how criminals are using popular apps to lure potential victims

Nouman Sheikh July 31, 2019

LAHORE: The advantages of social media may be taken for granted, given how indispensable certain platforms have become, but what is often overlooked is the risk such technologies bring with the benefits.

As helpful as they are to the average individual, social media platforms have also provided criminal elements convenient tools to lure potential victims. Take two recent cases in Lahore. According to an FIR filed by a young woman with the South Cantt police station, her husband was kidnapped for ransom by some ‘friends’ he met via a popular video-streaming app. A gang of kidnappers lured Faizan through Bigo Live and tried to pressure his family into paying Rs1 million in ransom by live-streaming him being tortured on the same app. Although police were able to rescue Faizan, arresting eight suspects in the process, SSP Investigation Zeeshan Asghar says the incident highlights the grave danger social media users may place themselves in by developing online friendships with strangers.

In another incident in the city’s Civil Lines area, a prominent businessman was lured and killed by a young man using another popular video-based social media platform. The culprit in this case, had been challenging various individuals that he had developed a rivalry with. According to SSP Asghar, Sheikh Irfan Channa’s alleged killer challenged the businessman and others by acting outlines from various movies and posturing with weapons on TikTok. The suspect also uploaded several photos on Facebook, showing him with an armed gang. As a final act, he posted a sarcastic message following Channa’s murder. “Criminal Investigation Agency and police teams are in the process of arresting suspects in Channa’s murder with the help of CCTV footage recorded by Safe City cameras,” said SSP Asghar. Police are also looking into who else was involved in Faizan’s kidnapping, he added.

“We have been taking notice of criminal activities on social media platforms and are considering possible strategies to tackle this new menace with the help of the Federal Investigation Agency’s Cybercrime Wing and the Pakistan Telecom Authority,” the police official further said.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2019.


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